Saturday 31 July 2010

ANGUS CARLYLE – Some Memories Of Bamboo

Since Carlyle’s name was new to yours truly, I went for a Google search and the most satisfactory description was the following: “… Angus’ work explores the intersections between culture, technology and creativity. More specifically, he is interested in how our constructed ‘landscape’ modulates a sense of the relationship between human beings and the environment”. Not a truer word indeed, as this collection of location recordings testifies. Limiting the action to the small suburban district of Kami-Katsura in Kyoto, this man succeeded in presenting an artifact that is not comparable with the current overabundance of field recording-based releases – a dime a dozen lately – as in this case the sounds really tell a story of their own, perfectly portraying the difficulties revealed by each setting and the fickle temporariness of the situations he researched through. Carlyle is very precise, explaining in the enclosed booklet circumstances and utilized materials, adding his reflections about those moments.

That said, it is pretty pointless to merely list the acoustic pictures contained by Some Memories Of Bamboo: there are several that we come across quite regularly, a few less widespread than others and, at times, rather extraordinary. Seaming together natural and urban voices is not a difficult task these days, yet Carlyle accomplished a nice balance of clarity – namely an easy identification of the source – and elusiveness, either derived from a malfunctioning piece of equipment or caused by the long distance from which certain scenes were captured. The repetition of a computerized announcement on a bus appears almost as lyrical as a nocturnal bird; a restaurant’s muzak fragment is so softly restrained that, once framed in this particular milieu, it becomes plain lovely - like a whisper of summer wind.

Pure poetry is found in the record’s finishing episode, an old woman singing an ancient Japanese tune, then chatting amiably in broken English with the fellow soul who happened to record that moment. They talk, among other things, of the beauty of a well-visible moon in an afternoon’s blue sky. Reading in the liners that this frail lady was recovering from a heart attack is touching, her will to keep living and appreciate the sheer magnificence of the universe’s phenomena a teaching for many people who grieve over trivial matters and minor frustrations, unable to see the essence of what’s necessary right in front of them.